An ACL reconstruction is the replacement of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in the knee. The ACL can be damaged in sporting activities e.g. quick change of direction or twisting action. After this ligament is ruptured, the knee becomes very unstable and feels weak or “giving way”. There are three common types of ACL reconstruction:
- Hamstring Graft
- Bone-patella tendon–bone
- LARS graft
What are those you say?
A hamstring graft is where they harvest some of the tendon tissue from part of your hamstrings and weave it to replicate a ligament and attach it in as if it were an ACL. Bone-patella tendon-Bone graft is where they take part of the quadriceps tendon (where your patella sits) and a little bit of bone either side, and attach it inside the knee in the same plane as where the ACL was. Lastly a LARS graft is made of a synthetic material instead of harvesting your own tissue, to replicate your ACL.
As presented by Grant Twentyman one of our physiotherapists at this months Bodyworks Subiaco’s Professional Development, all of these options have pro’s and con’s and the decision of what type of graft used for surgery comes down to the individuals circumstance and the surgeons preference.
Rehab for an ACL reconstruction is very intense and a long process so unfortunately surgery is not a quick fix. There are strict post-operative protocols that need to be adhered to and therefore physiotherapy guidance throughout recovery and rehab is vital. Initially it is our goal to reduce knee swelling and regain extension (straightening) of the knee joint. From here a graded strengthening and exercise rehab program is necessary for return to sport and daily activities. Reformer Pilates exercise is very beneficial for safe and monitored exercise post ACL reconstruction as it requires recruitment of your control and stabilising muscle groups to ensure no damage comes to your newly repaired knee.